Yesterday, Bonnie took me aside and said: "I hope you have a meaningful fast." I'd never heard this before. This is the time of year when people wish each other a happy and healthy New Year, and as tonight begins the Day of Atonement, Yom Kippur, the usual platitude is to wish someone an "easy fast." I've never thought about having a meaningful fast and it probably wouldn't have struck a chord with me had I not been meditating for these past two hundred twenty one days.
Like everyone else I know who is Jewish, I dread the day of fast. It's uncomfortable. We get dehydrated, headachy, cranky, tired. Services are long: there's the interminable standing, then sitting, then standing and standing and standing. It's one day, but it's one very long day.
When I was sixteen years old I decided not to fast. It was 1973 and I was in Israel as a high school exchange student. That day was one of the first days I'd ever contemplated mortality and the precious nature of a life. My stomach was not in protest, but on that Yom Kippur in 1973, fighter jets jettisoned across the the sky and I spent much of the day in a bomb shelter on the farm where I lived. The day the Yom Kippur War began was the last day I decided not to fast.
Although, as always, I will miss my coffee (morning latte: I love you so much!), I will probably get grumpy and have bad breath, this year I will try to find the meaning of my day of atonement and my fast find me.
If you observe, I wish you a meaningful fast.